The lithotripter gave the world a anew,noninvasive way to treat kidney stones with little to no pain.Discoveries in aerospace engineering and research on shock waves in the 1970s led to the technology's birth.
Early studies at the dornier research group(founded by german engineer claude dornier) focused on aerospace technology.One new phenomenon noted by dornier scientists was the pitting effect that occured in airplanes as they approached the speed of sound.It was discovered that this was caused by shock waves created in front of droplets of moisture.This finding in 1974 was the beginning of a collaboration between Dornier engineers and hospitals,and led to the invention of clinical extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy(ESWL).
In 1980 this new technology was used to treat its first patient,using the dornier HMI lithotripter.The treatment of kidney stones begins with an X-ray to identify the localization of the stone,followed by ESWL's high-frequency shock waves,which eventually breakup and pulverize the stone.
The process takes up to forty minutes,causing minimal collateral damage.The power level is slowly increased ,so that the patient can get used to the feeling,with the final power level depending on the patient's pain threshold.The patient then passes the fragments of stone with the urine,usually over the next three weeks.The first-time success rate of the ESWL procedure is around 95 percent.
The lithotripter is used for all types of stone removal in the urinary tract.Shock waves are also used in orthopedics for the treatment of conditions such as heel spurs,tennis elbow,and calcinosis.It enables doctors to treat patients in a safe,effective,and noninvasive way.Millions of people are estimated to have benefited from this technology.